by Lois Wickstrom
For the self-published author, Amazon is the single easiest and least-expensive way to get your book in front of readers. Amazon lists self-published books from many sources, such as IngramSpark, Lulu, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct Publishing.
But once our books are created, published and up on Amazon, the next question is: How can we get customers to find and buy our books? Most advertising for self-published books costs more than it brings in.
Amazon Marketing services now has an advertising program for Kindle books that links in the paper editions (printed) of those books as well. You do need to make sure that the Amazon listing for your Kindle book also shows your paperback and/or hardcover versions. If they don’t, just contact KDP Customer Service, giving them the links to all versions of your title, and they will combine the listings.
My Kindle books were lingering in the 2 millionth most popular on Amazon for Ladybugs for Loretta and 4 millionth most popular for Oliver, A Story About Adoption. This means they were selling one or two copies a month combining all forms of each title, and had been selling that slowly for about a year.
Then I decided to try the Amazon Marketing Services.
This is a program that lets you buy sponsored positions on Amazon’s search pages. Ladybugs for Loretta is about a girl who finds ladybugs under rocks and behind tree bark. I want people who are looking for books about ladybugs and books for girls to consider my book.
Amazon Marketing Services is designed to let authors choose their own search terms (you can buy a pre-selected list, but I don’t recommend that.) The AMS site also offers a default price of $0.25 per click, calculated when people click on the link to view your book. I changed that to $0.15. Sometimes a click only costs me $0.06. (The actual price depends on what other sellers have bid for the selected search terms.) Also, AMS lets you put a daily cap on how much money you will spend. I capped my costs at $2 per day. I rarely spend more than $0.20 per day per title.
I selected the key words I wanted and I wrote the short description of each book that will appear beside a small version of the cover, when people search for my key words. My books now appear on the top pages of an Amazon Search – maybe not the top 10 listings, but in the top 40 listings. That’s a reasonable number for a customer to look through.
Amazon will display my ad when people search for my key words. I only have to pay when somebody clicks on the ad.
When you set up an AMS account, you will be able to see how many times your book ad was displayed and how many times people clicked on each of your key words.
The bottom line here is that my books have gone from selling one or two a month, to selling about 13 a month. This doesn’t sound like much, but it means that my Ladybug book is now in the 200,000s and Oliver is in the 600,000s. This is a huge jump in rank. I figure the increases can become cumulative. The higher my books are in rank, the more often people will see them and the more often people see them, the more copies I will sell. And my marketing costs remain less than $10 per month.
The most important aspect of selling on Amazon is the number of reviews your book gets. But you can’t get reviews if you don’t have readers. Amazon Marketing Services is one easy, inexpensive tool you can use to start building readership for your book. It’s not the only tool you should use, but it can help generate some buzz. And once people start talking about your books, you’ve found the best advertising of all.
Lois Wickstrom’s books include: